Palestinian Authority condemns Israel after its soldiers kill three militants in West Bank refugee camp

Visit by Israeli far-right national security minister to Temple Mount criticised across Arab and Muslim world

The Palestinian Authority has condemned Israel after three militants were killed by Israeli troops in the Balata refugee camp outside the West Bank city of Nablus.

The three members of the Fatah Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade were buried on Monday afternoon and Palestinian sources reported that six other residents were wounded, one in serious condition.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesperson for Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, said Israel carried out “a veritable massacre and the continuation of the all-out war against the Palestinian people”.

He said the Israeli government bears responsibility for the dangerous escalation and remarked that the United States’ silence in the face of Israel’s “crimes” had encouraged it to persist with its aggression. Mr Abbas demanded that Washington intervene urgently to stop “Israeli madness” that would lead the region towards an eruption of violence.


The Israeli army described the raid as a counter-terrorism operation, noting that the troops also arrested three militant fugitives, confiscated weapons and destroyed a laboratory for producing explosive devices.

Meanwhile, the US said that it was very troubled about the order issued by Israel’s West Bank military commander permitting Israelis to return to Homesh, one of the four West Bank settlements evacuated as part of the Gaza disengagement in 2005. Maj Gen Yehuda Fuchs signed the order over the weekend, two months after the Knesset parliament revoked the Disengagement Law in the northern West Bank.

US state department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that the order was inconsistent with Israeli governments’ commitments and that promoting settlements in the West Bank was an obstacle to the implementation of the two-state solution. France also condemned the move as “contrary to international law”, arguing that it “contravenes the commitments Israel made”.

Mr Miller said Washington was also troubled by the provocative visit on Sunday to the Temple Mount by far-right national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and the incendiary rhetoric that had accompanied it, without mentioning Mr Ben-Gvir by name.

The visit was also condemned across the Arab and Muslim world as the flashpoint compound is revered by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif noble sanctuary, the site of the Al Aqsa mosque.

Mr Ben-Gvir said that Israel’s government, made up entirely of right-wing and religious parties, was making changes on the Temple Mount “slowly and quietly”.

“We have the privilege to live in a generation like this,” he said. “We have the privilege to live in a situation in which ministers, the speaker of the Knesset and Knesset members visit the Temple Mount. Who thought it would happen so quickly?”

The Palestinian Authority called the visit a “flagrant attack on Al Aqsa”, warning that it would have “serious repercussions”, while the Jordanian foreign ministry called the visit a “dangerous and unacceptable escalation”.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem